SL working its way off red lists

  • Discussions planned to boost tourism

By Dinitha Rathnayake

Following the UK announcing that it was taking Sri Lanka off its “Red List” this week, steps are being taken to remove Sri Lanka from the red lists of other countries alongside the success of the national Covid-19 vaccination drive, according to Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga.

According to the Minister, discussions have already begun at the diplomatic level in this regard and further discussions have been planned with the heads of state as well as the health and tourism authorities of those countries.

This was stated by the Minister at a discussion held with Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) officials on the programme to attract more tourists to the country.

The discussion was held at the auditorium of the Tourist Hotel Management Training Institute.

Sri Lanka has been removed from the UK’s “Red List” – which requires hotel quarantine for all arrivals – effective from Wednesday (22), according to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

“Sri Lanka has been removed from the UK’s Red List which will take effect from 4 a.m. of 22 September 2021,” the High Commission said in a Tweet.

This has also been confirmed in the UK Government’s website for foreign travel advice, which says: “Sri Lanka is on the red list for entering England. From 4 a.m. on Wednesday (22 September), Sri Lanka will move to the amber list for entering England. ”

Sri Lanka is among eight countries including Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Kenya, Egypt, and the Maldives that will be removed from the list from Wednesday.

Travellers returning from these countries will not have to quarantine on their return as they are removed from the so-called Red List for travel, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Saturday (18).

Currently, countries such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Spain, China, Singapore, and the UAE have imposed travel restrictions on Sri Lanka.

During the discussion, the zonal officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) pointed out to the Minister that there are obstacles in attracting tourists to Sri Lanka due to the restrictions in those countries.

They also pointed out that some health guidelines in the country have restricted the number of tourists visiting the country.

Responding to this, Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that steps have been taken to update the health guidelines that apply to tourists, in consultation with the health authorities.

The Minister pointed out that more than 40,000 tourists have visited Sri Lanka since January, and only 270 of them have been reported to be infected with Covid-19.

The Minister instructed the officials to take steps to attract at least 1,500-2,000 tourists to Sri Lanka daily within the next three months, and to plan tourism promotion activities to achieve the target of 5,000 visitors per day by next year.

The Minister instructed the SLTPB to implement creative promotion programmes for this purpose, and to promote Sri Lanka as a country that has successfully implemented the complete vaccination.